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What is Weight Loss: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Definition and Summary
Weight loss is defined as a decrease in body mass and fat. However, in extreme cases, this condition also includes loss of protein, lean body mass (lean mass), and other substrates in the body. This weight loss can happen deliberately, such as when you go on a diet or accidentally, such as when exposed to diseases such as infection or cancer.

Several factors play a role in weight loss. The principle is that weight is influenced by the amount of energy we use in our daily activities and the amount of energy obtained from the food we eat. A person whose weight has not changed is most likely to burn the same number of calories as the amount of energy received. Excess calories are stored in the body as fat. Thus, for people who want to lose weight, they can reduce the amount of food intake or increase the amount of energy they spend through the physical activities they do.

Intentional weight loss is usually done to improve one’s health and fitness. People who are obese or overweight can benefit significantly from the weight loss process, because health risks can be reduced and diseases such as hypertension and diabetes can be prevented. Patients who intentionally want to lose weight can do so with lifestyle modification strategies, especially by using a combination of a low calorie diet and increased exercise or other physical activity. Other techniques for weight loss include the use of certain drugs. For obese patients, bariatric surgery can be done to reduce the size of the stomach.

On the other hand, unintentional weight loss can be caused by a number of health problems. The presence of disease tends to increase the body’s metabolic needs, even in a state of rest. At the same time, the disease can cause loss of appetite or inability to eat so that calorie intake decreases. In addition, certain diseases that affect the digestive system can cause digestive problems or nutrient absorption. Losing calories and excessive nutrition can also occur, especially in patients with chronic diarrhea or vomiting.Some examples of diseases that cause weight loss are malnutrition, chronic infections such as tuberculosis and HIV, chronic diseases such as hyperthyroidism or Parkinson’s disease, various forms of cancer, and chronic depression. Digestive system conditions that cause weight loss are parasitic infections that cause chronic diarrhea, such as inflammatory bowel syndrome or chronic pancreatitis. Hole in the stomach or enterocutaneous fistula can also cause weight loss because the body loses excess nutrients. Some drugs, especially diabetes and chemotherapy drugs, can also cause weight loss.

Weight loss that continues and gets worse can cause a health disorder known as wasting or cachexia. In this condition, the patient continues to experience weight loss even though he receives enough calories. Severe weight loss can affect various body systems and can lead to serious consequences, including interruption in healing and immune responses, weakened muscle strength, kidney failure, and even death.

Main Symptoms
Weight loss can be a worrying condition if it happens too fast. If you want to lose weight, it is best to lose an average of 1 kg a week. If not, you might end up losing muscle, not body fat. People who lose more than 5 to 10% of body weight in a span of one year or less for no reason at all, are advised to seek medical help. In addition, you are also advised to consult a doctor if you experience symptoms such as chronic cough or diarrhea, together with weight loss.

Symptoms of unintentional weight loss are:

discomfort or abdominal pain
Loss of appetite
Physical body size smaller

Who to See and Types of Treatments Available
A general practitioner or family doctor can evaluate the cause of your weight loss. You will be asked about your health history and eating habits. Your doctor can also see symptoms that you might not notice but might be related to your condition. A complete physical examination and laboratory tests will be needed to determine the exact cause.

Treatment will depend on the cause of weight loss. Patients with certain medical conditions will be referred to a specialist doctor or surgeon to treat the disease. Your doctor may also need to work with a nutritionist to check whether you are receiving adequate nutrition or not. Usually, a diet rich in protein and nutrients is recommended for patients to be able to gain weight.

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